Photo by Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com
In a rematch of the Eastern Conference Championship from 2013, the D.C. Current and Boston Whitecaps will battle for the right to play in the MLU Championship game. But instead of traveling to Boston like last season, D.C. will host the Whitecaps inside of Cardinal Stadium this Saturday starting at 7 p.m.
Throughout the course of the 11-week season, the D.C. Current have proven to be the top team in the Eastern Conference. The Current’s 9-1 record earned them a home playoff game and the chance to qualify for the MLU Championship game in front of their own fans. The only obstacle remaining between the D.C. Current and a date at PPL Park on July 19th are rival and defending MLU champions, the Boston Whitecaps.
“This is why we play, this is the fun of ultimate,” said Current Head Coach Keven Moldenhauer. “The chance to play in front of our home fans and take down Boston for a third time, that’s practically a dream come true.”
The Whitecaps fell off their throne this season with a 5-5 record after going undefeated in 2013, and only qualified for the postseason after the Current defeated the Philadelphia Spinners in Week 11.
All season long the Current have had an eye locked on their foe located 400 miles to the North. When D.C. topped Boston inside of Cardinal Stadium in Week 2, they became the first team in MLU history to beat the Whitecaps. In Week 9, they became the first squad to defeat Boston on their home field. Boston has landed some licks of their own against D.C. this year though, as the Whitecaps handed the Current their only loss of the season in Week 3. While the Current have the 2-1 edge in the season series, D.C. has outscored Boston by just one goal at 51-50 over the three contests. It seems only right that these two teams clash to determine a conference champion.
“I’m actually excited that it’s come down to this; this is what we wanted at the beginning of the season,” said Current handler Markham Shofner. “I’m glad that we have to go through Boston [to get to the Championship game]. If we don’t get it, then hell it was Boston. But if we do get it, then we went through the team we were gunning for the whole season.”
While Boston had a down year, they still were a very solid team. The Whitecaps scored the third most goals and surrendered the fewest scores of any team in the league. D.C on the other hand scored the most goals and had the best goal differential in the MLU while allowing the third fewest scores in the league.
“Personnel wise we know how dangerous they are, even if they haven’t played well on the road which is why their record is where it’s at,” said Current Assistant Coach Will Smolinski. “Their personnel is incredible and they are probably the toughest team for us to matchup against.”
Moldenhauer said the key on Saturday night will be limiting silly mistakes on offense and scoring at a rate that allows the defense to take more risks.
“I went back and watched all three of the games and each of them were pretty sloppy for both teams,” said Moldenhauer. “We might have scored pretty consistently but there were still multiple turns each point. So on Saturday I want to see the offense score clean points, so that it makes it easier for the defense to take chances, be riskier trying to get turns.”
D.C.’s defense has shown all season long that they can generate turnovers throughout the game and consistently convert them into break points. In fact, the Current had a streak of four straight weeks where they were able to string together a run of four consecutive break points scored. Pulling off a long run of break points against Boston will be no easy task since the Whitecaps have some of the best offensive talent in the MLU.
Jeff Graham scored the second-most points in the league with 27 goals and 20 assists, teammate Brandon Malecek finished fourth in the league in points with 17 goals and 26 assists and Josh Markette finished sixth in the league in points with 14 goals and 28 assists.
The Current have plenty of offensive firepower of their own in three players who finished inside of the top-10 MLU scorers. Alan Kolick led the team in scoring and was third in the league with 14 goals and 30 assists, Shofner was seventh in the league with 11 goals and 30 assists and Peter Prial recorded 23 goals and 16 assists.
Saturday’s matchup will be a showdown of the some of the best talent the MLU has to offer and will decide the best team in the Eastern Conference. If D.C. is able to advance it’s only right that they do so against Boston.
“It’s going to feel good if we win and go to PPL Park, but I don’t think it would feel as good if we didn’t go through Boston,” said Moldenhauer. “They are the perennial powerhouse. To beat them and earn our trip to the championship means that it wasn’t given to us, it was something we earned 100% on our own. To me it makes the season all that much better if we can take them down.”
Come cheer on the Current as they face off with the Boston Whitecaps in the Eastern Conference Finals this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium.